Road Trip Refueling: Town’s Pig Ears

August 15 2013, 10:30 AM

Following a recent hike to the tarns that sit at timberline beneath Mount Sopris, my family and I surrendered to the able cooks in Carbondale. As to where to eat? That was easy: Town, chef Mark Fischer’s new restaurant. Fischer, who is best known for the late Six89, opened Town in May. (Fischer is also chef-owner of neighboring Phat Thaithe Pullman in Glenwood Springs, and the recently revamped Harman’s Eat + Drink in Cherry Creek.)

Town didn’t disappoint. We refilled our depleted protein levels with a meal that included pig offal, rabbit tacos, dim sum-style duck legs, and goat (both meat and cheese) agnolotti. The pig ears that began our dinner were a nice reminder that as we celebrate—to quote Dana Cowin, Food & Wine’s editor in chief—the “megatrend” of vegetables, there is still a place for the craze of yesteryear: pork.

Often, sliced pig ears are so crunchy they resemble shoestring potatoes with little flavor. Not these: Fischer creates an addictive crispy-meets-chewy texture by brining the ears overnight, and then slow-braising them for 24 hours in chicken stock and a mirepoix with thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns. The ears are cooled, sliced, dredged in cornstarch, fried to order, and tossed with dehydrated hot sauce. Fischer’s slices are wider than most—a quarter-inch thick (which he explained is the width of a proper French fry)—and served in an upright paper cone alongside house-made curly parsley aïoli. The snack has become known as “pig fries” among locals. I’d take them over frites any day—earned hiking calories or not.

Beverage pairing: This month, fold in a requisite serving of fruit by pairing the “fries” with Town’s watermelon margarita.

Bonus: More road-trip musings, check out Moveable Feasts in the August issue.

348 Main St., Carbondale, 970-963-6328

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— Image courtesy of Charles Englebert